Update: The 100,000 point signup bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve is now over, but it is still an AMAZING card!
About a year ago I wrote about my three favorite travel credit cards, and how valuable the points earned using these travel cards and be. While for the most part the cards are the same there has been some amazing developments in the travel credit card field for those of us who love luxury travel for next to nothing!
The Best Travel Credit Cards
People ask me all the time how do I manage to travel so much, well the answer is pretty simple. I can maximize the value of the points I get from various credit cards for travel. Earning miles or points to use for travel has never been easier! You can book some pretty amazing award travel just from the points you can earn from using a credit card for travel and everyday purchases!
What has changed?
Late last year Chase introduce a new top of the line luxury travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When it was released, Chase was offering a 100,000 point sign-up bonus, easily worth more than twice as much as the $450 annual fee. Just this past week American Express announced they would be raising the annual fee on their Platinum card from $450 to $550 also adding a $200 yearly uber credit.
Chase’s Travel Credit Cards
Chase now has two levels of travel credit cards. The Sapphire Preferred (my favorite card last year) and the new Sapphire Reserve. The Sapphire Reserve offers, $300 per year of travel credits, which can be used on anything from airline tickets to parking meters and is automatically credited to your account the same day as the spend. You get a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check voucher when you sign up using the card, you get the Priority Pass Select membership giving you access to 900+ airport lounges around the world. When you book a stay using the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection concierge you also get exclusive benefit similar to the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts. The card also gives you immediate preferred status with Avis, National and discounts with Silvercar. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is my, and many travel bloggers, favorite travel credit card right now. Regular spending earns you 1 point per dollar, while spending on travel and dining earns 3 points per dollar!
With Chase Sapphire preferred you earn 1 point per $1 spent. You get an additional bonus point for any dining or travel purchases, and another bonus point if you use Chase’s Ultimate Rewards website to book your travel. The additional point on dining and travel have been really beneficial in the past year with how often I was flying between Raleigh and Tampa.
Last year I transferred 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my British Airways Executive Club account to book a friend’s ticket from London to Dubai saving us thousands of dollars. Other transfer partners include Singapore Airlines (who I’d really like to fly in their first class suite!), Southwest, United, Marriott, and Hyatt among a few others. All transfer partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio, so you don’t have to worry about paying a surcharge to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points! I currently have nearly 200,000 Ultimate Rewards points and I’m not sure where they’re going to take me!
Chase is currently offering a signup bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months for the Sapphire Preferred Card. They are also waiving the first year’s $95 annual fee! If you are interested in applying reach out to me and I can refer you and get bonus points! I was told by a banker at a local Chase branch that you can still get the 100,000 point bonus for the Sapphire Reserve if you apply in a Chase branch, but I don’t think you have much time left!
The Citi Prestige card has a number of travel benefits including 4th night free. If you call and book your hotel for 4 consecutive nights through the Citi Prestige Concierge your fourth night is complementary and you can still use hotel loyalty programs! There is also a Global Entry or TSA Pre-check credit and you get $250 Air Travel Credit each year to be used for baggage, tickets, upgrades and other fees. Unfortunately Citi Prestige is discontinuing free access to the American Airlines Admirals clubs when flying on American Airlines, which in the past made a world of difference flying so often on American Airlines.
With the Citi Prestige card you earn 1 point per $1 spent. The earning is tripled for Air travel and hotels and doubled for dining and entertainment. Your Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to partners such as Cathay Pacific (Who we flew to Hong Kong), Hilton, AirFrance, Qatar Airways (Who we flew on our way to the Maldives), Singapore Airlines and others. For the most part points transfers are 1:1, but if you transfer points to Hilton HHonors you get 1500 points per 1000 Thankyou points.
Citi is currently offering 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
American Express Platinum for Business
The American Express Platinum also has a lot of great travel benefits. You get access to Delta Skyclubs, $200 of airline fee credits (to any one airline), a global entry credit, and access to American Express’s Fine Hotels and Resorts. Fine Hotels and resorts provides a slew of benefits to luxury hotels including early check-in and late check-out, room upgrades, and a unique benefit such as complimentary spa treatments and $100 food and beverage credit at the hotel.
You earn 1 point per $1 spent, with the only bonuses being if you book travel through Amextravel.com. American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Hilton, SPG, Delta, British Airways, JetBlue, Air Canada, Emirates, Etihad and a number of other partners. Most airline partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio, but hotel partners SPG you only get 333 starpoints for each 1000 membership rewards point transferred. Occasionally there are offers for increased redemption where you get a 25%-50% bonus for transferring points to a certain airline’s reward program.
American Express is currently offering 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
All of the travel credit cards I use provide me with great benefits and more than pay for their annual fees based on the returned value I receive. The points earned in all three of these cards can be redeemed for statement credit, although you can get much more value if you transfer points to a partner. For example, Singapore airlines First Class suite one way from New York to Frankfurt will set you back 58,000 points. The same trip would be between $5,000 and $6,000 if you paid for it. The 58,000 points used would get you $350 in AMEX statement credit, $580 in Chase statement credit or just $290 in Citi statement credit. I think its pretty clear that redeeming for statement credit isn’t a great option when you can transfer these points to a partner and redeem for much more valuable travel! If you have one of these cards remember that next time you go to redeem for statement credit!
Have you gotten great value out of redeeming credit card points through a transfer partner? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @passports2life!